Wassweiler Dinner House & Pub

The Trifecta of Dining Experiences

ABOVE: The Wassweiler Inn & Bathhouse represent the only original hot springs structures in Helena. LEFT: A feast for the eyes: The cowboy cut ribeye perches on scalloped potatoes and is topped with a microgreen salad.

Text by Heather Bode • Photography by Jacqui Smith

You’ve probably never heard of Ferdinand Wassweiler, a German immigrant who followed the rush of gold miners to the Helena area. While he was shrewd enough to claim land west of town that bubbled with natural hot springs, Wassweiler, plagued with money troubles and the lure of “get rich quick” schemes, departed into history as nothing more than a finagling shyster.


Wassweiler knew the hot springs would be profitable in a mining camp where gold dust was local currency. His original hot springs stood not far from the current Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness. After selling part of his land to Colonel Broadwater, Wassweiler built a second facility in 1883. His second creation combined an Inn with a separate bathhouse where travelers as well as locals could enjoy a hot soak.

Today, Marci Andersen has restored this original 1883 Inn & Bathhouse into a fine dining experience steeped in good old-fashioned Montana history. The Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, originally had 7 exterior doors for guests to come and go at their convenience. There’s also the Coffin Door located on the east side, so named because in the late 1800’s, it was considered bad luck to transport the deceased through your main entry. Several of these doors are still in use. The interior boasts original doors and exposed brick in the posterior dining room.


Andersen’s background is in catering and kitchen management. She says, “I like to focus on equal amounts of food, service, and atmosphere. If one of those is off, customers aren’t satisfied when they come for a fine dining experience. When you walk into a place, the temperature, the smell, and the music all need to be right when people walk in the door. That’s what we hope to do!”

We dare you NOT to be hypnotized by the Man Candy! A grilled peach filled with mascarpone and topped with walnuts and fresh mint tames the craving for something sweet.

An Honestly Fine Meal

The cornerstone of the Wassweiler Dinner House’s menu is the steaks because Andersen says, “Montanans love a really good steak. You’ve got to stick with what people want.” With the use of an infrared broiler, itself a rarity in Montana, steaks are seared at up to 1100 degrees. The beauty of this is the chef masters the temperature control resulting in the perfect steak. Try the cowboy cut ribeye. It’s enough to fill up even the hungriest of Montanans.

Andersen also intends to create a fine dining experience without being pretentious. “I don’t want people to have to Google what’s on the menu,” she says.  An appetizer of maple bourbon bacon, appropriately nicknamed Man Candy, is a perfect example. There’s nothing pretentious about slabs of sizzling bacon materializing on your table.

The use of fresh ingredients locally sourced will provide for a seasonal menu. Andersen intends to build her own greenhouse for herbs soon. Does she have any favorite ingredients? “Everything from scratch! I’m a ‘from scratch’ kind of person,” she says.

With history, hospitality, and an honest-to-goodness menu, we offer a hearty welcome to Helena’s newest fine dining establishment! Watch for details about the grand opening and reservations on Facebook.

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Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness

Helena’s Hottest Upgrade

Text by Heather Bode • Photography by Jacqui Smith

ABOVE: The tabletops were constructed out of racquetball flooring salvaged during the remodel. BELOW: The Grill & Taproom has a suspended floor allowing for beer from the beer cooler, with room for 44 kegs, to come up directly through the ductal iron beer system.

As a high schooler hand-digging a pool at the former Broadwater Athletic Club in the early 80s, you can bet Chris Johnson never imagined he’d one day own the land. And the pool. Together with his brother Scott and business partner John Rosa, Johnson purchased the Broadwater in February, 2015.

TOP: A comfy conversation area sits adjacent to the taproom. Direct access to the pools is also available. ABOVE: The pools border Highway 12, but traffic noise is muffled by the sound of happy soakers. A variety of pool temperatures, including a cool plunge, offers options for everyone.

Chris Johnson says, “When we were young, the Broadwater was THE place to be.” A thoughtful remodeling process aims at reclaiming that status.

Massive changes are evident, with more in the works. Johnson says, “We wanted the remodel to revolve around the pools. Anybody can put in a fitness facility. 

Very few places on earth are blessed with hot water just coming out of the ground. For us, it was important to put the framework together so we could move what makes this facility special to the forefront.”

Note the new name: Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness. Hot water, which artesians out of the ground at roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit east of the building, mixes

 with cold water springs from below the racquetball courts providing a sulfur-free soak minutes from downtown Helena.

A newly-remodeled sauna and steam room 

encourages family togetherness. Three racquetball 

courts transformed into a grill and taproom (opening soon) offer 

direct access to the pools via glass garage doors. The first (of three) pool remodel features a freeform saltwater pool dotted with boulders from Johnson’s parents’ property in Montana City.

“We’re trying to be organic with the rocks, landscaping, even the color of the water…you’ll notice a blue-green vs. a

straight blue,” says Chris.

The whole flow of the Broadwater’s changing. Come and soak it all in.

For more information: visit www.thebroadwater.com or call 406-443-5777.

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Community Service

Where the Idea of the Old West Lives On

Text by Colter Pedersen | Photography by Steve Wolff

The road north to Dupuyer cleaves the surrounding territory in two. With soaring summits to one side and endless plains to the other, you watch the stark landscape climb from tumbleweeds to towering peaks.

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Trattoria Bella Roma

Char and Charm, A Rich History Flirting with Modernity

Text by Colter Pederse | Photography by Jacqui Smith

Born and raised in Rome Italy, head chef Davide Giuliani has always been passionate about food. “I’ve been watching my grandma cook since I was a kid in the kitchen. Sort of grandma’s recipes with a twist, that’s what I’m trying to do here,” he says.

Beyond Last Chance Gulch, just past the oldest alley in Helena, lies a little restaurant offering Mediterranean flavors infused with a modern flair. Open only since June, Trattoria Bella Roma brings a distinctly Old World menu to Montana.

“My food style is Roman cuisine. It’s very rustic, warm comfort food,” begins chef Davide Giuliani. Born and raised in Rome, he radiates an easy Italian charm and a youthful energy.

“I’m trying to recreate those flavors that I grew up with from cooking and learning from my grandma and putting my own twist on it, my own heart and soul in it,” he adds. “I want people to really experience what it was like growing up with that kind of food.”

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A Family Affair

Stepping back in time along the hi-line

Text by Colter Pedersen | Photography by Mary Kaercher

They say Havre has it, but what exactly that is, seems open to interpretation. Once upon a time it might have been the resting point on the rail line halfway between Minneapolis and Seattle. Nowadays it might just be a meeting place for local farmers and ranchers. But if people are going to meet, they’re going to want to eat. And no one’s been feeding people along the Hi-Line longer than Andy’s Supper Club.

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Low & Slow

Bringing a bit of the south out west at Bad Betty’s Barbecue

“If loving lard is wrong, I don’t want to be right,” reads the sign on the counter, a not so subtle indicator that at Bad Betty’s Barbecue flavor comes first.

Fiercely regional and deeply debated, for true devotees, barbecue is practically a way of life. One built around community and tradition, elevating the lowest meats to the highest levels of flavor through time-tested techniques. It’s edible alchemy, transforming the toughest cuts into the tastiest, the most tender.

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